Continuing on from part 1 of this series which you can read about here.
Waking up in the mountains
Did I mention I have a weakness for sunrises? The next morning I was up early to catch the sunrise on the ridge of the mountains (And yes, I nearly lost feeling in my fingers because of the cold). While the rest of my party slumbered on I grabbed the camera and headed out for some commune-with-nature time.
I walked to the edge of the resort, climbed a small hill and watched as the sun rays playfully chased away the shadows clinging to the mountains on the horizon. The very air seemed motionless and time slowed down to a crawl. It was so still I felt I could hear the very dew drip from the leaves.
Eventually I walked back to our chalet and managed to rope in the hubby for some more morning exploring. We scrambled up a hill behind the resort and had another gorgeous vista spread out at our feet.
We made it back down just in time to join the others for breakfast. Once again breakfast was a surprisingly well stocked affair. Bread and assorted condiments, eggs cooked to your liking upon request, sausages, fruits, lentils and of course the karak chai.
Heading to Jebel Akhdar
After packing and check-out, we set off to our next stop – Jebel Akhdar or the Green Mountain. The mountain has it’s name thanks to the terraced farms that line the slopes and give it its emerald hues. Depending on the season you can find roses, pomegranates, peaches or even walnuts here. Access to Jebel Akhdar is restricted through a police check point where you will have to switch to 4WD. The climb up the mountain is steep and winding. There are quite a few rest stops along the way with beautiful views of the landscape. There are also signboards at each stop explaining the vistas spread before you which is super helpful.
Near the summit, at close to 3000 metres, we stopped at the Sahab Hotel for lunch. In terms of location, you could not get much better than this for a Jebel Akhdar hotel.
The staff willingly arranged seating for us outdoors and the warm noontime sun perfectly complemented the cold weather. The Afghani rice dishes were unanimously voted as being better than the Indian biriyani. I would avoid any of the fish dishes if possible. The fish biriyani we were served had to be returned as the fish was most definitely spoilt. Our server immediately replaced the dish with another biriyani. Being the peak lunch hour, service was choppy at times. We had to ask twice for a lemonade and the accompaniments with the biriyani (pickle and raita) were rather tiny portions. However, they did replenish our accompaniments when we asked. But the views… o man! That made it all worthwhile.
Our last stop was the village of Ash Sharayjah.
We wandered through the narrow alleys and climbed down some stairs carved into the mountainside.
We found ourselves in one of the terraced fields and followed the falaj (irrigation channels), doing some exploring.
Young Omani children scampered past us with a cardboard box for fruit picking. The locals advised us to come back in summer to see Jebel Akhdar in all her glory. But to us, this was already beauty beyond what we had imagined. It was almost too difficult to leave.
We left Oman with cold bodies, warm memories and vowing to return soon to see more of this beautiful country.